Simon Gathercole on the Differences Between Canonical and Noncanonical Gospels

Steve Walton, administrator of the Acts and More blog, provides a summary of Simon Gathercole’s plenary paper from the British New Testament Conference (Sept. 4-6, 2014): “Jesus, the Apostolic Gospel and the Gospels.” I can’t say much about the paper without reading it for myself, but it does strike me as presumptuous to start with the determination that the four canonical gospels are distinct as a group from other gospels simply because they are in the canon. Indeed, there are probably more differences (not just in content but in theology) between the Synoptics and John than there is between the Synoptics and some noncanonical texts. The pool of noncanonical texts selected by Gathercole is also somewhat arbitrary: the Gospels of Peter, Truth, Thomas, Philip, Mary, the Egyptians, and Judas. In all, Gathercole’s approach seems to be a throwback to the type of discussion seen in the nineteenth century (e.g., C. E. Stowe, “The Four Gospels: State of the Question in 1851,” Journal of Sacred Literature [Jan. 1886]: 283-314).

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One Response to Simon Gathercole on the Differences Between Canonical and Noncanonical Gospels

  1. Francis Owusu says:

    I have read the summary of Simon Gathercole’s and I do agree in his statement that not that the canonical Gospels are the only ones which have any of these four ‘rule of faith’ elements—but it is the case that the four canonical Gospels are the only ones which each contain all of the four ‘rule of faith’. The four gospels did not cover all the scenes and stories about Jesus Christ because John 21:25 says Jesus Christ did many other as well, if every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

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